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Do we still get value from national examinations?

Education minister Janet Museveni releasing the exams last week

Education minister Janet Museveni releasing the exams last week

Newspapers are awash with paid advertisements for schools displaying their top scores—aggregate four (4) and five (5) in the recently released Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results.

Many schools have run dubious radio and television advertisements boasting about their learners’ high scores. Some parents have fallen prey to this. They are moving from one media house to another, paying for space to have their children’s photographs and success stories published!

They have placed their children under immense pressure to score the highest aggregates. Pupils who have not scored an aggregate of 4 or 5 feel dejected and worthless. And this does not consider the circumstances under which the candidates wrote the examinations.

Some were sick; others have examination fright! It is even worse for O and A levels. At A-level, the teachers, in concert with parents, advise students to take certain subject combinations that, in their view, are passable. In the end, students have been trained to memorise facts that, in most cases, are not relevant to their future career choices.

And in some cases, creativity and innovation have been killed at the altar of passing examinations. Those who memorise well are greatly rewarded with good aggregates. There are specific teachers who happen to be members of the panel that sets national examinations. These teachers have turned into mercenaries.

They are sought after by private schools. They are famed for training pupils or students to earn the perfect examination score. These teachers compile a list of set examination questions and coach learners on how to correctly answer them. So, learners memorize the answers to questions.

And this training takes almost a year to accomplish. Education has taken on an unusual personality. And this is a consequence of the wholesome embrace of private education. Education is no longer a public good, as it was when most schools were public schools.

It is now a competitive business, and certainly the maladies that come with cutthroat competition are inevitable. In some cases, Uneb has had to withhold the results of some schools suspected of having hired people to assist candidates during exams.

In others, learners were found with written chits that appeared like answers to examinations. Why are schools doing all this? It is because they now regard learners as clients (sources of income) rather than individuals who must be educated.

This uncouth competition has affected the integrity of examination results, and the entire education system is flawed. From the above, national examinations may not be the right criterion to test the intellectual abilities of pupils or students. The ministry of education ought to regulate competition and the sector.

This model of education is ruining children. Now, children’s intellectual abilities are measured by how well and how much information they can memorize. Parents have been duped. Children need to compete, but it needs to be done fairly and properly. 


+2 #1 Ensi eno! 2023-02-01 08:03
Well said Observer, well said indeed! I do not know whether the people in authority think that what is happening in Uganda's education system is good, otherwise, they would be very afraid!

Commercialization of education has killed this country, we now focus more on exam results instead of learning! I see school owners calling parents to give them children due to their 'great' UNEB results!

What happens in South Korea, Germany, Finland, Holland, Norway, Japan, US, UK etc, do they also have this level of commercialization and glorification of national examination STARS?

Are they better off or worse in terms of infrastructural development, creativity & innovation and human capital development than Uganda? We need to style up as a nation urgently.
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+1 #2 Joe 2023-02-02 19:37
This article is great. Kudos to the author. Businessmen/women took opportunity of highly commercialized education sector to reap.

Proprietors of private schools "buy" UNEB Chief examiners to coach their candidates. All of a sudden, the hitherto private schools that were in oblivion are the stellar schools.

Great public schools, especially in rural areas that nurtured us are no more. During my time at Makerere Univ., my class (one of the marketable degree programs) had students from all-over the country and from multiple schools.

These days, just one or two schools fill the whole class at the university! If unchecked, this will likely cause imbalance and associated social problems in the country.
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0 #3 Truth Hurts 2023-02-10 11:41
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10)
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